SEATTLE MARINERS

Mariners finalizing deal with slugger Mitch Garver, per reports

Dec 24, 2023, 4:47 PM | Updated: 10:02 pm

Seattle Mariners jeff passan Texas Rangers Mitch Garver...

The Rangers' Mitch Garver swings against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Sept. 29, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Just under the wire, the Seattle Mariners have reportedly sneaked a present under the Christmas tree in the form of Mitch Garver.

Drayer: Digging into Seattle Mariners’ addition of Mitch Garver

The M’s are finalizing a two-year, $24 million contract with the free-agent slugger, per multiple reports by MLB insiders. The Christmas Eve news was first broken by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Daniel Kramer each following with their own reports.

According to Kramer, who is a Mariners beat reporter, the team views Garver as its primary designated hitter, which would represent a change in philosophy for the offense as Seattle has spent multiple seasons using a rotation to fill the position.

Garver, 32, is a right-handed power hitter who has played the majority of his seven-year MLB career as a catcher. He has also played some first base.

Garver won a World Series ring in 2023 with the Texas Rangers, posting a slash line of .270/.370/.500 for an .870 OPS with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs in 87 games.

Garver was a significant contributor in the postseason during Texas’ run to the championship. He appeared in 14 playoff games, hitting three homers (one in each of the ALDS, ALCS and World Series) with a .226/.317/.434 slash line for a .751 OPS.

More on Garver: ESPN’s Passan on Seattle Mariners’ realistic offseason options

Injuries have been a prevalent storyline in Garver’s career, however. He has played 100 games in a single season just once, including knee and foot issues in 2023 alone.

Last season was Garver’s second with the Rangers. He spent his first five big league seasons with the Minnesota Twins, including a breakout 2019 campaign when he hit 31 home runs with 67 RBIs and a .995 OPS, all career-high numbers.

A ninth-round pick out of the University of New Mexico by the Twins in 2013, he was traded to Texas for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronny Henríquez in March 2022.

Garver’s Statcast page for last season features a lot of red, which is a good thing. He ranked in the 89th percentile in 2023 in batting run value, and was 83rd percentile or better in weighted xOBA, xSLG, barrel percentage, chase percentage and walk percentage.

Without a set DH in 2023, the Mariners ranked 25th in MLB at the position in OPS (.688), last in batting average (.211) and tied for the sixth-most in strikeouts (184).

The reported addition of Garver is the most significant for the Mariners this offseason, who so far had most notably made deals that took the contracts of Eugenio Suárez, Marco Gonzales and Evan White off the books, with promising outfielder Jarred Kelenic going to Atlanta in one of the moves. Seattle also did not tender a qualifying offer to Teoscar Hernández, another slugger who is now a free agent after spending one year with the M’s following a trade with Toronto.

With Suárez and likely Hernández playing elsewhere in ’24, Garver will be looked to provide similar thump from the right side of the plate for Seattle with hopefully less strikeouts.

The two-year, $24 million deal for Garver would be the first multi-year contract issued to a free-agent hitter by the Mariners under current president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto since he joined the franchise prior to the 2016 season as general manager. It would also be the highest average annual value for a free-agent hitter signed by the Mariners during the same period, a distinction currently belonging to a one-year, $9 million contract with AJ Pollock last season.

The Mariners under Dipoto have previously made two notable trades on the night before a holiday: Suárez to Arizona this year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and a blockbuster move with the same Diamondbacks on the eve of Thanksgiving in 2016 that sent Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker to Arizona for Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura and pitcher Zac Curtis.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Morosi: Mariners ‘more focused’ on adding in free agency than trade
San Francisco Giants sign former Mariners catcher Tom Murphy
What kind of bats could Mariners land if they trade Bryce Miller?
Raleigh talks: M’s offseason, end-of-year comments
Will Seattle Mariners trade a pitcher? Reports of interest from suitors picking up

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